A month-long investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that study participants who tested positive for COVID-19 were roughly twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant within two weeks of the onset of illness than those who tested negative for the virus.
The findings, published Friday, follow health officials surveying 314 symptomatic outpatients about their personal activities after they sought testing at 11 U.S. health care facilities during the month of July. The review included 154 participants who tested positive for the virus and 160 control participants who tested negative.
The report concluded that going to places that offer on-site eating or drinking may be “important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19.”
“As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities,” the CDC report states.
The report did not find a significant difference in positivity rate when it came to the patients who participated in activities other than dining at a restaurant, such as going shopping, going to a gym or office or using public transportation.
“Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use,” the CDC stated.
The CDC report also noted that there have been reports of virus exposure in restaurants related to air circulation, though participants were not asked as part of the survey whether they had dined indoors or outdoors. Even if masks are worn and social distancing measures are practiced, the CDC warned that airflow may affect virus transmission.
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